There are many issues that could potentially cause pain in your ear. One of the more common causes is an ear infection.
Let’s take a look at the different types of ear infections that could be causing your pain, as well as when to seek medical attention.
Middle Ear Infection
The middle ear is located between the eardrum and the inner ear. The area can become inflamed or infected, often from viral respiratory illnesses like colds or the flu.
Symptoms may include:
- Mild to severe earache
- Muffled hearing
Occasionally, people experience a ruptured eardrum due to the pressure buildup in the middle ear. If this happens to you, you may hear a loud pop, followed by an instant decrease in pain and pus-like drainage from your ear.
Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, occurs when the ear canal becomes inflamed. Symptoms can include:
- Tender outer ear
- Itchy ear
- Hearing loss
- Ear discharge
Swimmer’s ear is sometimes caused by allergy or infection. However, certain risk factors make you more prone to getting the condition, such as
- Frequently cleaning your ear canal with a cotton swab
- Going for regular swims outside or at a local pool like Florence Family Aquatic Center
- Wearing hearing aids
- Regularly using earplugs
Treatment Options for Ear Infections
If your ear infection is caused by a virus, you might just need to rest and let it run its course. Your doctor may recommend Tylenol® or Advil for the pain. While many ear infections can clear up on their own, it’s important to seek medical attention if you have symptoms. If it’s caused by bacteria, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection and keep it from spreading.
Treat Ear Infections to Avoid Mastoiditis
Mastoiditis is a rare infection of the mastoid bone, which is located behind and below your ear. It is usually caused by an untreated ear infection. It can occur at any age but is most often seen in children under two. Symptoms include severe pain behind the ear, fever and headache. If left untreated, mastoiditis can lead to serious conditions including:
- Blood clots
- Hearing loss
- Facial nerve paralysis
Mastoiditis often requires intravenous antibiotics and surgical draining of the fluid. If you or your child has symptoms of mastoiditis, seek medical care immediately.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact ENT & Allergy Specialists today.